Tapestry image, featuring Olanike Olaniyi

Meet Indiana's Diverse Library Staff  

The makeup of library staff in Indiana is a rich tapestry of people with a wide variety of backgrounds, identities, and walks of life. The Indiana Library Federation (ILF) is proud to celebrate their stories and the ways that our diverse library staff helps make a difference in communities across the state. 


Tell us your name and pronouns. 

My name is Olanike Olaniyi and my pronouns are she/her/hers.

What library do you work at? 

I work at the Indianapolis Public Library.

What's your position and how long have you been there? 

Collection Development Librarian (World Languages and Diversity). I joined the library in 2017 as its first Diversity Fellow. 

Have you worked in other library positions or at other libraries? 

None aside from IndyPL in the US. I have worked at other library institutions in Nigeria. 

Tell us about your journey that led you to your job in a library. 

I had the intention of becoming a medical doctor and never thought of being a librarian. The industrial actions and multiple closure of higher institutions led me to start as a cleaner at my state library. I later re-converted to a clerical position upon examination of my credentials and arguments. I was encouraged by one student on industrial training in my library to apply an associate degree in a near university since my earlier admission have been cancelled by the strike. The joy of connecting and helping people find information keep encouraging me to obtain more degrees.

With the degree, and in the same library I started as a cleaner, I rose to the level of managing the cataloguing and classification section within 12 years.

I and my family relocated to US due to certain persecution. After months of arrival, I saw a volunteer position with the library, I applied and got the position to assist with digital and acquisition projects. One of the digital projects was tagging the Indianapolis Historical Landscapes. While the professional education, skills and experience I had been quite relevant, I got drawn to the advanced technology tools, institution settings and specializations. My LIS education which includes Associate Degree in Librarianship, Bachelor Degree in library and Archival Information and a Master in Information Science from Nigeria focused and encompasses academic, public, school, and read special library specializations. 

What new and interesting things are happening at your library? 

The Indianapolis Public Library is focusing on supporting the lifelong learning of its diverse communities through library resources, programming, and outreach services. The library currently have adults, children, and teen collections available in more than 23 world languages. With the 24 branches and mobile library services, there are millions of physical and digital resources provided to meet the community’s diversity. The library is working on projects such as relocating Glendale Branch to new location and adding a brand-new Fort Benjamin Harrison Branch in Lawrence Township, expanding the digital technology and learning literacy at our branches, small business trainings.

What are your favorite sections of your library? 

That would be between the shelves with my three kids and exploring the nature around the library.  

Do you have favorite library resources or materials? 

I love children picture books (books with enough pictures depicting the narration and usually for readers 4- 8 years old) and read-along books (books with audio built right in. They include speakers and a headphone jack, with audio controls attached to the inside cover of the book. Audio narration includes page navigation), Christian genre books (books focusing on Christian theology and ethics) and exploring electronic databases (where you find journal, magazine, and newspaper articles such as Consumer Reports Magazine Archive (1991 - present) ,CQ Researcher,  Driving Tests.org). 

Are there other libraries you love to visit? 

I love visiting libraries in museum and archives as they hold lot about past, present and future.

Are you a person who visits libraries when you're in a new place? If so, do you have any stories?

Yes, I am. The first library I visit when we arrived in US was the old Eagle library on 34th and Georgetown Road for how to ride the IndyGo buses and use of the computers. My family was working on our immigration status with lot of printing and fax and transportation needs, we found the help and lead in the library. I have since been encouraging the newcomers in US that I volunteer with to do the same.

Do you enjoy browsing in Little Free Libraries? Any unique finds? 

I have seen few in the parks and around my community but have never pick or drop a book in them as I couldn't find my interests.

What's your superpower at your library? 

Resilience. Empathy with professional skills in volunteering with immigrants and refugees in my spare time have come a long way as another superpower for me. 

Anything else you'd like to share? 

Before my relocation, I was part of 19 international librarians on exchange program called International Visitors Leadership Program sponsored by Department of States. The program involved visiting states and libraries in US to gain and share professional experience. It was a lasting experience that ignite my passion about showcasing and connecting my community with resources for diversity discovery and appreciation. 


The End